FTA launches $11 million innovation initiative

Jan. 15, 2020
This will highlight funding that encourages and rewards innovative approaches to delivering mobility.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)’s Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative, which supports and advances innovation in the transit industry, was announced by Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

Speaking at the Transportation Research Board 2020 annual meeting, Williams described the AIM initiative, which encourages innovation throughout the industry by promoting forward-thinking approaches to improve transit system design, service and financing.

“The Accelerating Innovative Mobility initiative will enhance the service, design and financing of public transportation systems through forward thinking and innovative practices,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The AIM initiative includes $11 million in challenge grants to help transit agencies experiment with new ways of doing business, such as exploring new service models that provide more efficient and frequent service. The goal of the new service models is to encourage travelers to choose transit. FTA will also support outreach to both urban and rural areas in order to ensure widespread exposure to projects.

“Innovation has never been more important than it is today,” Williams said. “We need to continue to innovate to keep pace with today’s fast-changing transportation network.”

AIM challenge grants will be detailed in an upcoming FTA Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).  The initiative will establish a national network of transit agencies that will test and share project results and use FTA’s technical assistance centers to promote promising innovations.

Williams also announced during her remarks that as part of the AIM initiative, FTA’s Fiscal Year 2020 competitive grant programs, which will total $615 million, will highlight innovation as part of the selection criteria. This will provide applicants with an opportunity to showcase how they can incorporate new approaches to improve the rider experience.